The quaint Quincy Harbor may seem like an unlikely place for a paranormal experience at first. It’s calm, blue waters paint the quintessential image of a peaceful seaport town. The narrow docks are lined with sailboats, waiting for a relaxing day out on the water. However, a glance at the imposing USS Salem can be your first clue that mystery is lucking amongst the tranquil waters of the port. The retired Cold War-ear cruiser floats in the harbor, dwarfing the nearby vessels. The over 700-foot long ship is home to a long history and abuzz with suspected spiritual activity.
Naval History of the USS Salem in Boston
The history of the USS Salem begins on Independence Day in 1949 when she would become the last heavy cruiser to be laid down worldwide. Commissioned by the US Navy after World War II, she was part of an order for three Des Moines-class heavy cruisers and is now the last one in existence. The ship was used for ten years for naval training purposes all across the Atlantic Ocean and European waters.
She began her journey from Massachusetts in the Boston Navy Yard in 1950. Sailing to Europe, the USS Salem was the host for many training exercises in ports in many countries in the region, from Italy to Algeria. She then returned to the U.S. that fall and prepared to join the Atlantic fleet in 1951.
The USS Salem sailed to waters near Guantanamo and Bermuda for additional gunnery training. That March, she became the distinguished flagship of the US Sixth Fleet in the Meditteranean. The ship played host to many honorable visitors that included admirals, shahs, presidents, and ambassadors as she made her way around Europe. She would return to Boston again that fall.
Over the years, the USS Salem would travel to Europe and Guantanamo for training and to serve as the fleet’s flagship. Each year, she would often return to Boston’s Harbor for overhaul. On her 6th deployment, she participated in a NATO training exercise under the watch of Naval Undersecretary Thomas Gates.
The USS Salem also became a movie star in 1956. She appeared in the film The Battle For the River Plate as a German battleship. In another brush with fame, the ship visited Monaco to honor the Prince of Monaco and Grace Kelly after the birth of their son in 1958.
The USS Salem was never used as a warship, only firing her guns for training purposes. She eventually arrived home to the US on the anniversary of the day she was laid down, July 4, 1958. She docked in Norfolk to await decommission, but her adventures would continue.
She was dispatched to Lebanon that August because of a suspected coup. She sailed the Meditteranean, this time serving as the flagship of the 2nd Fleet. Finally, on January 30, 1959, the noble ship returned to Norfolk to finally be decommissioned.
The Modern-Day USS Salem
Throughout the year’s the ship’s usage evolved. She was even considered for reactivation in 1981. However, finally in October of 1994, the USS Salem came home to Quincy Harbor.
The USS Salem became an integral part of the United States Naval Shipbuilding Museum. She was re-commissioned on May 14, 1995, as part of the Historic Naval Ship Association. Today, she gives the public a glimpse into what it was like to be aboard a Naval cruiser so many years ago.
An Eerie Setting in Boston
Today, the ship remains largely preserved. The dark narrow hallways and tunnels create a spooky vibe. Moving around the vast ship is like going back in time.
You can step inside the ship’s compact bunk rooms where the crew slept on their long journeys at sea. Books and magazines from the time are still resting on their desks and tables, seemingly untouched. It’s like the crew’s quarters are frozen in time.
The dining hall still remains the same under the humming lights. The cold chairs and long tables played host to countless dinners of navy officers at sea. You can vividly envision the meals that were shared and the chatter across the tables.
The ship also served many medical purposes. The on-board morgue was home to many of those that lost their lives. In 1953, the boat rescued victims from the Greek earthquake. Hundreds were treated in the hospital on board. However, many perished and never made it off the ship.
The surgical room of the ship is still filled with the tools used to perform operations on board. The ship’s dentist’s office is also still intact, complete with tools and false teeth. These haunting visions can help you imagine the unfortunate occurrences that can come with a life at sea.
Hauntings Aboard the USS Salem
There’s no shortage of stories of spiritual happenings that have come from those that have visited the spooky ship. Many of those touring the ship and employees alike have witnessed unexplained happenings. The ship’s dense, metal walls have likely made it difficult for spirits to escape.
Those that have toured the ship have heard footsteps in various areas. When they turn to see who is walking with them, mysteriously, no one is there. This eerie occurrence is one of the most common experiences of tour groups.
Voices have been heard drifting through the ship’s stale air. They are mysterious and sometimes incoherent. But they are definitely enough to make you question who else might be among your tour group.
The chairs have been pulled out and tossed across the room on occasion. Loud, unexplained banging sounds have been heard. The latches have been slammed when no one is around. The drill in the empty dentist’s office has even been heard turning on.
The printer at the museum, Peter Blumberg, had his own paranormal experience. A mysterious figure appeared before him in down one of the ship’s dark hallways. It stared at him then descended the staircase, leaving him perplexed.
It’s said that a woman has been recorded screaming from the hospital’s operating room. Her pleas to, “get it out”, were captured on an electronic voice phenomena device. Could her desperate screams be the result of a childbirth gone wrong?
A mysterious figure has been witnessed roaming the machinery room. Unexplainable furniture moves about empty rooms. Many have said that they have felt the presence of someone behind them, only to turn around and find that no one is there.
It’s been said that very few people visit the ship without leaving with a tale of an unexplained encounter. Touring the ship not only provides a glimpse into history. It’s a chance to experience a supernatural phenomenon. There’s a reason why it’s known as one of the most haunted ships in the world.
Visiting the USS Salem in Boston
A visit to this haunted ship can prove to be a truly unique and memorable experience. As a working museum, it provides an educational experience as well as a chance for a spiritual encounter. With a wide variety of choices offered, there’s something for everyone aboard the USS Salem.
Looking for a truly unique place to gather? The ship has areas available for all kinds and sizes of functions. Renting one of the spaces also includes a tour of the ship to create an amazing experience.
The main deck is available for large parties with a tent. You can host your next dinner party on the second deck. The ship’s mess halls are a fun place to host a birthday party or your next team-building event.
Of course, you can tour the ship during the museum’s normal hours. This is an awesome opportunity to learn while exploring the ship. It also gives you the chance to witness the supernatural occurrences that so many tour groups have before.
If you want a truly unique experience, you can even spend the night on the ship! You’ll get to explore areas of the ship that other groups don’t have access to. You’ll see what it was like for navy officers that lived on the ship many years ago.
Your two days aboard the ship will be filled with activities and unforgettable experiences. You’ll even enjoy your meals on the same mess deck as formal Navy personnel. The overnight adventure will give you a one-of-a-kind glimpse into what life was like on the USS Salem.
Other Boston Area Haunts
As with most old, colonial towns, Boston has its fair share of history. The city has seen a long list of tragedies and death. It’s no surprise that the city is full of haunted hot spots to explore.
Fort Warren’s Lady in Black
Melanie Lanier was hanged for being a traitor back in 1862 after trying to rescue her husband, a Confederate soldier, from prison. During her rescue attempt, her gun backfired when trying to shoot a guard that was stopping their plan. Ironically, the bullet hit her husband instead and killed him.
The ghost of Melanie Lanier has been spotted at both Fort Warren and out on George’s Island. Today, she’s famously known as the Lady in Black. She gets this name as her spirit is still donning the long, black robe that she was hung in.
The Cutler Majestic Theatre
The bright-light lined Cutler Majestic Theatre is a stunning historic building. Built in 1903, it has been restored and used for several purposes over the years. Many spiritual encounters have also happened over this time.
Reportedly, many have seen the ghost of a former Boston mayor. He supposedly died during the performance and his spirit has since refused to vacate his seat. Others have seen a family wandering the theatre’s empty upper balcony.
The Omni Parker Hotel
Boston’s most notoriously haunted hotel has a ton of rich history. The Omni Parker Hotel on School Street used to be the home of famed author Charles Dickens. It now provides a home for spiritual guests.
The hotel’s founder, Harvey Parker, was spotted wandering the hotel hallways and guest rooms for years after his death. Guests report that they’ve heard mysterious sounds during their stays. Mysterious voices drift amongst the rooms and lights flicker on and off completely unexplained.
The grounds at Boston Common are well-manicured and beautiful. They are also full of mystery. The area was once used as a place for hanging and as a burial ground. In fact, it’s been said that many that died there have been seen wandering the space to this day.
People strolling the Common have seen the spirits of those sentenced to death hanging from the trees overhead. Women in clothing from Puritan times have been seen walking the grounds together. A crying colonial woman and sounds of nooses in the treetops have also been heard.
The old age of the city creates an abundance of cemeteries. These graveyards are a great opportunity to catch a spiritual sighting. Wandering their grounds can provide a unique historical experience.
Copp’s Hill Cemetery has seen a history of vandalism and grave robbery. Are these spirits unrested by the abuse of their burial grounds? All kinds of unexplained visions and shadows have been spotted moving about the spooky cemetery over the years.
Granary Burying Grounds dates back to the mid-1600s. Paul Revere is buried here and visitors have reported spotting a ghost on horseback that matches his image. Suspicious floating shapes and unexplained apparitions have also bee seen amongst the headstones at this old graveyard.
Boston’s Ghostly Scene
The streets of Boston boast stately, colonial architecture and a lush, beautiful landscape. From the rows of brick townhomes to the bays and shoreline, there’s so much to see and explore. Historical landmarks are scattered throughout the city, sharing the many notable events that have taken place there over the years.
This history makes Boston one of the most haunted cities in the country. From wartime conflict to civil unrest, this city has seen it all. The USS Salem is one unique experience to kickstart your exploration of this ghostly town.